One of the first sharks TFUI Founder Melissa was exposed to was the lemon sharks (Negaprion brevirostris) of Bimini, Bahamas under the watch of Dr. Samuel Gruber. These sharks can grow up up to lengths of 3 m (10 ft) and weigh up to 90 kg (200 lbs). #Finfact: The maximum record for a lemon shark was one individual that measured 3.43 m (11.3 ft) in length and 183.7 kg (405 lb)! Talk a big one! One distinguishing factor of these sharks is that their two dorsal fins are the same size, unlike other species whose second dorsal fin tends to be smaller than the first.
Part of the Carcharhinidae family, these sharks a yellow-green to olive colour that helps them camouflage with the sandy substrate they tend to favor in their tropical range. Lemon sharks are found off both coasts of Latin America and down the eastern side of South America. With large populations in the Caribbean, it's no surprise that important nurseries have been found in the Bahamas, particularly on the island of south Bimini. These animals are also known to have been seen up the eastern coast of the USA, and the western coast of Africa.
Lemon sharks tend to live in or near shallow-water mangroves, which are usually nursery areas for their young. In fact, Bimini's Biological Field Station AKA the "Shark Lab" showed that sharks display site fidelity (coming back to the nursery they were born in) to give birth! At BBFS, ongoing research is being done on lemon sharks, from movement to behavior aspects.
They are known to be social, and live in groups when young pups. This increases communication, mating possibilities and protection, amongst other things. However, it does come with cost: disease risk increases (such as illness or parasite) and competition for resources (food and 'shelter'). The social interactions in lemon sharks is unique in that the size of the lemon's brain is rather large, suggesting that they have the ability to cooperate with others and even establish hierarchies. Dr. Tristan Guttridge has done marvelous work on this.
Lemon feeding behavior is easy to observe due to their well-defined home ranges are in tandem with both the amount and type(s) of prey present, as well as the diet of the lemons. Although mainly piscivorous, they are known to like the occasional snack of crustaceans and benthic organisms. #Finfact: Intraspecific predation/cannibalism of juvenile lemons have been observed.
This species of shark is viviparous, with the females being polyandrous (meaning she takes multiple mates) and having a biennial reproductive cycle. Dr. Samuel "Sonny" Gruber, founder of BBFS, has observed the breeding biology of these animals for many years.
They are assessed as "Near Threatened" (NT) by the IUCN due to habitat degradation and destruction, primarily in the coastal Caribbean.
want to learn more about these jawsome animals? here are some great article:
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TFUI Founder Melissa C. Marquez is author of all animal bios and "Behind the Fins" segments.
SEE MELISSA'S TEDx TALK HERE:
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